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Flooding leaves St. Lawrence County with over $350,000 of damage

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With roads, bridges and acres of land under water for nearly two weeks, St. Lawrence County so far has accounted for more than $350,000 of municipal property damage due to flooding.

With estimates that low, assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency is out of the question, according to St. Lawrence County Emergency Services Director Michael J. LeCuyer.

In order to receive FEMA aid, Mr. LeCuyer said, the statewide damage would have to reach $27 million. St. Lawrence County would have to sustain $680,000 worth of damage. He also said that at least 25 homes or businesses would have to experience first-floor flooding, which doesn’t include basements. The guidelines also do not take into account damage to seasonal housing, like several of the flooded camps along Black Lake.

“The guidelines for receiving FEMA are pretty strict,” he said.

Mr. LeCuyer said he spent the past few days calling municipalities across the county asking for estimated dollar amounts of damage. He calculated $350,000, but that doesn’t include damage to Ogdensburg’s Maple City Trail or potential damage to the Days Mills Road bridge in Hopkinton.

“The water is still too high for them to assess the amount of damage that’s been done there,” Mr. LeCuyer said of the Maple City Trail.

As far as state aid goes, that’s in Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s hands, he said.

“It’s up to the governor to decide if he wants to provide state aid, but we haven’t heard anything from him yet,” Mr. LeCuyer said. “All I’ve been able to tell people is to mitigate it as best as possible and keep track of any damage-related finances in case something becomes available. But as of right now, nothing is available.”

Gov. Cuomo declared a state of emergency in the north country at the height of the flooding.

Mr. LeCuyer said the village of Canton so far has the most reported damage at $82,000.

Most of that damage occurred at Taylor Park off Miner Street, which is maintained by the village.

“We have about 100 yards of sand that was moved in the floodwaters and is now covering a good percentage of the entire park, including the ballpark,” Village Superintendent Brien E. Hallahan said. “Sand and debris took out the fence on the east side of the softball field.”

Mr. Hallahan said a concrete slab that remained after two small storage buildings were moved last summer was destroyed. One building is used by lifeguards for changing and storage; the other is for storing kayaks. Mr. Hallahan said aside from a few shingles, the buildings were not damaged because they are moved away from the beach area every winter.

Mr. Hallahan said with Canton Canoe Weekend coming up, village crews are going to fix up the park as fast as possible, starting with the beach area. He said they will have to replace much of the sand from the beach and fix the concrete slab.

He said he hopes the village will be reimbursed at some point.

“We’re going to do what we can to open the park, but that doesn’t mean it will be back to normal,” he said.

Only two roads in the county remain closed because of flood damage, County Route 15 in Rensselaer Falls and the Days Mills Road bridge in Hopkinton, according to Donald R. Chambers, St. Lawrence County highway superintendent.

He said highway officials suspect erosion under the footing of the Days Mills bridge.

“The water was on or up to the steel of the structure,” he said. “Our policy is to close it if the structure could potentially be unstable.”

Mr. Chambers said the water has been too high for officials to assess whether the bridge was damaged.

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